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360 Degree Feedback: What Everyone Thinks of You

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree FeedbackOrganisational life revolves around performance monitoring and measuring. Often it’s a single person who will assess your performance. But what if they had access to the observations of all sorts of people who work with you in different ways? That’s the big idea that 360 Degree Feedback represents.

The idea and practice of 360 degree feedback has been through rises and falls since it first appeared in the 1950s. And it really took off in the 1990s. But it is as important today as it’s ever been. So, let’s examine 360 degree feedback from a number of angles.

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Neuroleadership: The Appliance of Neuroscience to Leadership

Neuroleadership

Neuroleadership‘We’ve finally found our silver bullet‘ says one HR professional in a promotional video for a conference on Neuroleadership.

If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine; perhaps it should. Silver bullets come from the same shop as snake-oil! So we have to ask,

‘how solid is one of the latest big ideas in management: neuroleadership?’

The principle, of course, is solid. Because what it seeks to do is bring the findings of neuroscience into the practice of leadership.

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Scientific Management

Scientific Management
Scientific Management
Scientific Management

Scientific Management was the first real revolution in management thinking. And it owes much of its vigour and many of its flaws to its founder, Frederick Winslow Taylor.

In the closing years of the nineteenth century, Taylor was observing inefficiencies in the manufacturing plants of the United States. And he was finding patterns of disincentives, poor work practices, and waste. If only, he thought, the modern workplace could be revolutionised by the Scientific Method. And he was the man to set about it. In so-doing, he created the discipline of Scientific Management.

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Kenneth Blanchard: Management Storyteller

It was tempting to describe Ken Blanchard as a simplifier, because that’s what he has done throughout his career; simplify the skills of management. But that is not the essence of what he does. He starts by telling a story and it is that process that both cuts away extraneous theory and also renders his ideas easy to access. Ken Blanchard has turned management theory into a successful training business to a degree that no one else has achieved.

Ken Blanchard

Short Biography

Kenneth Hartley Blanchard was born in New Jersey in 1931 and grew up in New York. He attended Cornell and Colgate Universities, gaining a BA in Government and Philosophy, an MA in Sociology and Counselling, and a PhD in Education Administration and Leadership, in 1967. From there, he went to Ohio University to become an Assistant Dean. Here, he met collaborator, Paul Hersey.

Hersey had been developing a strong model of leadership, based on his industrial experiences before entering academia in 1966, incorporating ideas from researchers like Fiedler, and Blake and Mouton. The pair worked together on a book, Management of Organisational Behaviour, that was published in 1967 and is now in its tenth edition (2012). This book included a model, then called ‘a lifecycle theory of leadership’ but now better known as Situational Leadership. It was not the first situational theory of leadership (see the earlier Pocketblog article: ‘Situational Leadership‘) but it rapidly became the best known.

In 1979, while a professor of organisational behaviour and leadership at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he and Hersey agreed to split and Blanchard formed a company called Blanchard Training and Development – that was later (1998) renamed as The Ken Blanchard Companies and is today one of the most successful international businesses of its kind. In that year too, he published his own model of Situational Leadership: Situational Leadership II.

The following year, he was introduced to a psychologist called Spencer Johnson, with whom he rapidly collaborated to write a short book on management, in the form of a fable-like story. They self-published ‘The One Minute Manager‘ in 1980, and it was subsequently published by Morrow in 1982. It has become the kind of best-seller that truly justifies the title: the cover simply proclaims ‘multi-million’.

This became the start of an industry with subsequent collaborations with different authors – the first handful bearing the ‘One Minute Manger brand’ – appearing every few years. Most follow the format of a younger manager seeking the wisdom of an older, more experienced teacher.

Notable contributions (and personal favourites mixed in) include:

Putting the One Minute Manager to Work (1983)

Leadership and the One Minute Manager (1985)

The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey (1989)

The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams (1990)

Raving Fans : A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service (1993)

Gung Ho!: How To Motivate People In Any Organization (1998)

Blanchard’s Contribution

Blanchard’s contribution has been to systematise the skills of management and to explain them extremely clearly. Many British readers find the folksy fable style of his books not to their taste, but the fact is that they use simple language and compelling acronyms to make management techniques accessible and memorable.

The original One Minute Manager sets out just three simple tasks in management: one minute goal setting, to clarify what I expect of you, one minute praisings, to recognise progress and performance, and one minute reprimands, to show where you are going wrong.

Putting the One Minute Manager to Work extends this, looking at the management ABC of Activators (what a manager must do to set you up to succeed), Behaviours (your performance) and Consequences (how the manager responds to you with with support and feedback).

Leadership and the One Minute Manager introduces Blanchard’s own view of situational leadership  using the OMM format, which he later extended, in The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams to leading teams. This book creates a neat merger of the situational leadership model with Bruce Tuckman’s model of group formation.

One of Blanchard’s most successful collaborations was with William Oncken Jr (and Hal Burrows), in The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. This presents a simple metaphor (the Monkey) for the problems managers accept from their colleagues and team members. It is a powerful articulation of the processes of good delegation and effective management of workload.

In the 1990s, Blanchard wrote four books with Sheldon Bowles, of which my favourites are Gung Ho! and High Five! (2001 – now out of print – about team working). 2000’s Big Bucks! (also out of print) is about making money. The exclamation mark in the four titles is indicative of the amplified style of writing, but all were turned into successful training programmes (not all of which persist, I think).

In summary…

There are many other books as well, some still available. Blanchard is a prodigious collaborator and his company is hugely successful in training managers across the world. I don’t think he will ever be seen as a great and innovative thinker, but without a doubt, he has a talent for tapping into oher people’s ideas and making them highly accessible, from Paul Hersey down to more recent collaborations with Don Shula (Everyone’s a Coach), Colleen Barrett from Southwest Airlines (Lead with LUV), and Garry Ridge, president of WD-40 Company (Helping People Win at Work).

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Setting Good Goals

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Goal setting is such a fundamental part of management, that we sometimes forget what it is for.  It has become embedded into formal processes that can distance us from what we are doing and turn good management practices into form-filling, box-ticking routines; devoid of any real meaning or purpose.

So let’s be explicit about what goal setting is for

We set goals for others so that they will know when they have achieved what we want.  We set goals for ourselves, for the same reason.  Goal setting is therefore about:

  • Giving a clear direction and reason for work
  • Giving an equally clear indication of when to stop
  • Being explicit about what triggers the reward – which may only need to be a thank-you
  • Setting a standard of achievement, on the route to mastery
  • Motivating people to achieve what is needed

SMART Goals

There are a lot of formulations of SMART goals – most typically:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

All of these are designed to remind users that good goals are explicit about what is expected, balance challenge with realism, are rooted in what is important, and have a time-scale attached.

What, Why, When, What if?

Good goals need to answer these four questions:

  1. What do you expect of me; precisely?  I need to know what you want in enough detail to be able to meet your expectations.
  2. Why are you asking it of me?  Without a sense of valuable purpose, I shan’t be motivated.
  3. When do you need it by?  So that I can schedule the work into my diary and assign it the right priority.
  4. What if things don’t go according to plan?  What resources can I draw upon, what help will you offer, what compromises are appropriate and what are not acceptable, what authority do I have to make decisions?

The key, however, to good goals is that they must be agreed between you, the manager, and the person for whom you are setting the goals.  The best way to get the commitment you need is to express the goals clearly, put them in writing and then to look your colleague in the eye, and ask: ‘do you accept this goal?’

When goal-setting becomes a formal process it loses its power.  Make good goal-setting an everyday routine – part of your day-to-day management of your team and of each individual.  Formal, annual or quarterly goal setting will then feel easy – it will set the strategic context for your day-to-day management.

Further Reading 

The Appraisals Pocketbook

The Motivation Pocketbook

Performance Management Pocketbook

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Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 3: The Alternative

In the last two weeks, we have been looking at managing poor performance:

  1. The infrastructure you will need
  2. The techniques to turn poor performance around

This week, we are going to look at what to do if you cannot turn the poor performance around.

Poor Performance

First, however, I should say two things

  1. In many regions of the world, you will have laws which mean you need to do this properly, to avoid unwanted complications and problems.  I am not a lawyer and know the laws in precisely none of the legal jurisdictions of the world.
  2. The above does not absolve you of the responsibility to deal properly with poor performance and neither, if you take proper advice and act with care, need it stop you.

Consequently, the following is nothing more than some generic thoughts, which you need to test against local law and your organisation’s policies and procedures.

The Supremacy of Evidence

Rule 1: you can’t act effectively without evidence.  No manager can be effective unless you are constantly aware of your team members’ performance – and that means reviewing evidence of what they are doing and how it compares with the requirements of their roles.  Take into account also any external factors that are affecting their work.

Documentation and Record Keeping

You also need to keep records and document what happens.  Most procedures and, I am sure, most legal systems will require documentary records to provide solid evidence that can back up your judgements and so justify your decisions.  Some systems will require copious data gathering and recording, so be structured and methodical.  Also ensure that your records are kept under lock and key or in strong-password protected files.

Openness and Choice

Be open with the poor performer about what you are observing and the implications it has for their future.  Be clear about the choices they have and the implications of each choice for them.  You cannot make me perform to a specific standard, but you must let me know the implications of my choice not to.

Care and Compassion

Finally, you may want rid of me – for all the right reasons – but that is not a good reason to abandon all compassion for me as a human being and, more important organisationally – to disregard any duty of care that you have towards me during the process, while I am still employed.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 2: Turnaround

Last week, we introduced the three components of managing poor performance and dealt with the first one:

  1. The infrastructure you will need
  2. The techniques to turn poor performance around
  3. What to do if you cannot turn the poor performance around

This week, it’s the turn of techniques to turn poor performance around.

Poor Performance

Performance Turnaround Toolbox

The toolbox analogy that Pam Jones describes in The Performance Management Pocketbook is a good one and some of the tools she details in her book are particularly relevant here: feedback, coaching and motivating, in particular.

Let’s list some of the tools in your performance turnaround toolbox.

Feedback

First and foremost, we need to provide open, honest, clear, and factual feedback to the under-performer, about the nature and level of their performance.  Do it early and the problem will be smaller.  Often an early intervention here can bring about swift changes or a genuine request for help, alerting you to causal conditions that you may be able to help with, or at least take account of.

Coaching

For my money, coaching is one of the most powerful ways to support poor performers – as it is to support average, good and excellent performers.  If you don’t have the skills, there are lots of sources of help – not least, the Coaching Pocketbook.  On a recent training course about Performance Coaching, the feedback I had was that this is, itself, a very powerful tool set for managers at all levels.

Goal-setting

Clearly a part of any coaching process, whether you coach or not, you must agree performance goals with the under-performer that are attainable and acceptable to the organisation.  I recommend tiered goals, incrementing in performance level month-by-month, until basic performance standards are achieved.  Why stop there?  If the process works, continue it until the performer reaches their maximum performance capacity.

Resource review

Look at the resources available to the under-performer in their workplace and ensure that they represent all that the performer needs, to succeed.  If not, take rapid remedial action.

Support

What support can you, other managers, and the performer’s colleagues offer them, to help them to tackle their poor performance?

Training/Re-training

Evaluate whether the poor performer needs further training or re-training to address their performance issues.  But do not accept a training course as a panacea: you must place it in the context of goals, support and a regular performance evaluation process, to help them to embed their learning into new practices.

Incentives

You may want to consider incentives – or even their flip-side, penalties.  You should not need to and, if you do, ensure that these will fall wholly within your organisation’s policies.

Job re-structuring

One option is always to re-structure the under-performer’s job either temporarily or permanently, to allow them to perform more effectively.

Re-deployment

Even more radical is the possibility of re-deploying the poor performer into a new role that they can thrive at.  Be careful though: don’t use this as a means to off-load trouble on other managers.  Also be aware that you cannot lawfully change someone’s contract without their consent in most jurisdictions (all?), so only do this after careful consultation with your HR experts and maybe even an HR lawyer.

Options Review

As a last resort, you need to work towards reviewing your poor performer’s wider options with them.  This is, of course, a euphemistic way of alluding to next week’s post about what to do if you cannot create a turnaround.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 1: Infrastructure

Happily, few organisations retain the ‘forced ranking’ system that classifies a fixed proportion of the staff as poor performers at the end of each year and then, as Jack Welch advocated at General Electric, manages them out of the business – or just fires them  A business I once worked for did this and it was as brutal as it was stupid.

Poor Performance

This isn’t to make a naive suggestion that there are no poor performers, nor that we should tolerate poor performance.  We need to identify and handle under-performance at the first sign.  Of course, prevention is better than cure, as we looked at what the positive tools are for performance management a while ago (What is Performance Management?) and also at the reasons for poor performance (The root of the issue).

But what can you do to deal with the poor performance you discover?  In a series of three blogs, we will examine:

  1. The infrastructure you will need
  2. The techniques to turn poor performance around
  3. What to do if you cannot turn the poor performance around

The Infrastructure for dealing with poor performance

A good organisation – and a strong management team – will recognise the reality of poor performance and proactively develop the elements it needs to engage positively with poor performers and manage their performance to turn it around.  Here is my checklist of the assets your organisation will need.

A performance management policy
… so that everyone knows the answer to ‘what next?’

Up to date and clear job descriptions
… to measure performance against

Robust performance monitoring processes
… so that managers have early indications of under-performance and a strong evidence base that allow them to identify and tackle issues early and firmly

A recruitment process (and all that involves)
… to maximise your chances of recruiting the right people and minimising your need for managing poor performance

Training in performance management
… because tools, techniques, policies and procedures are no good unless managers know how to use them

Coaching skills among line managers
… because coaching is one of the best tools for dealing with poor performance

Support mechanisms
… for the managers conducting performance management, who are likely to find it mentally and emotionally challenging and stressful

A disciplinary policy
… in case performance management does not succeed

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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The Root of the Issue: Dealing with Poor Performance

Last week, we looked at the meaning of Performance Management.  Many people perceive it as purely ‘dealing with poor performance’.  It isn’t.  Performance management focuses on creating good performance, but it must not shy away from dealing with situations where you or I under-perform in some way.

The solution must always start with the root of the problem: if you as a manager can work with me, as an under-performing staff member, to identify what is causing my poor performance, we have the basis to fix it in the most effective manner.

The Reasons for Poor Performance

CausesofUnderPerformance

In her Performance Management Pocketbook, Pam Jones gives six examples of common causes for poor performance:

  1. Personal ability
    Can I do the task you are measuring me on?
  2. Manager ability
    Have you, in some way, let me down?
  3. Process gap
    Are our internal systems at fault?
  4. Environmental forces
    Has our organisation put barriers in my way?
  5. Personal circumstances
    Has my private life got in the way?
  6. Motivation
    How confident and enthusiastic am I?

One of the most crucial skills a manager can have is that of diagnosing the cause of any under-performance.

Diagnosis

So here is my list of the six techniques you need to hone, to allow you to discern the reasons for my under-performance.

  1. Observation
    Being able to observe keenly what I am doing and how I interact with other people, equipment and processes
  2. Understanding
    Being able to understand the links between what people do and the results they get, within the processes for which you are responsible
  3. Questioning
    Being able to ask insightful questions that lead me and you to a deeper understanding
  4. Listening
    Being able to hear the answers I give and discern what I am trying to communicate
  5. Challenge
    Being able to challenge effectively my interpretation of events, to get at underlying truths
  6. Respect
    Being able to do all of this while demonstrating your respect for me, the organisation, and yourself, in equal measure.

Management Pocketbooks to help you acquire those techniques

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What is Performance Management?

‘Performance Management’ can sound scary to anyone who is new to organisational life.  Indeed, ‘I’m going to manage your performance’ can come across – even from the nicest of managers or supervisors – as just a little bit threatening.  But it shouldn’t be.

In fact; quite the opposite.  When you understand what performance management is, whether you are a staff member or a manager/supervisor, you will also understand just how valuable it is.  As Pam Jones describes it in The Performance Management Pocketbook:

‘Performance management is about getting results.
It is concerned with getting the best from people
and helping them to achieve their potential.’

What could be more benign than that?  Of course, these are excellent words, but how does it all happen?

Get out your Toolbox

Toolbox

I rather agree with Pam that the basis of any performance management approach is the skills of the manager.  I also really like her toolbox analogy, so nicely drawn in the book by Phil Hailstone.  Pam identifies and describes a lot of tools:

Delegating *
Coaching *
Feedback *
Dealing with poor performance
Motivating *
Empowering *
Team-building *
Performance reviews

This is such a core set of managerial skills that it is no surprise to find most of them (starred) addressed by their own Management Pocketbook.  What Pam does is bring them all together into a consistent framework.

Let’s take a look in a little more detail at the remaining two.  This week, at Performance Reviews, and next week, we’ll focus on dealing with poor performance.

Performance Reviews

To be at their most effective, performance reviews need to be a part of everyday management, rather than set piece events once a month or – heavens forfend – once a year.

However, you will need milestone performance reviews at key career points and stages in the business cycle, like annually or semi-annually.  The formal reviews, at these key points, need to be carried out with greater preparation and formality, but the process remains the same, for anything from a quick five-minute ‘catch-up’ review to a formally documented annual review.

Pam’s Performance Review Process is Simple,
yet Comprehensive.

Performance Review

  1. Preparation
    Do your research.  Observe performance carefully, gather data and evidence, review against performance objectives from the last review.  Schedule the review meeting and set aside enough time, in a suitable place.
  2. The Interview
    … or, less formally, the meeting, or even the chat.  Discuss performance  since the last meeting and agree performance requirements and support process to follow.  Pam sets out a lot of good tips – especially around objective-setting and the use of balanced scorecards to get  a good mix of objectives.
  3. Ongoing Review
    This is where Pam builds in a lot of the skills I listed above, like feedback, motivation and coaching.  It is the step where Performance Management can get a bad name, if, as a manager, all I do is tell you you need to do better at step 2, then abandon you without the right support and ongoing review.  Then, all I am doing, is setting you up to fail when the next cycle reaches the interview.

So, here’s the deal

Pretty simple, yes: but not necessarily easy.  Good performance management requires a partnership and hard work from both parties.  But the rewards are great.

Some Management Pocketbooks to help you with your Performance Management

The Performance Management Pocketbook, by Pam Jones

The Performance Management Pocketbook is supported by:

More Pocketblogs about Performance Management.

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